Pharmaceutical distribution is a complex and critical process that involves getting the right drugs to the right patients at the right time. With the global pharmaceutical market projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.4% from 2021 to 2028, efficient and effective distribution is more important than ever. In this blog post, we will share pharmaceutical distribution statistics that provide key insights into the industry.

Key Pharmaceutical Distribution Statistics 2023 – MY Choice

  • The global pharmaceutical distribution market was valued at $856 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $1,411 billion by 2027.
  • In the United States, the pharmaceutical distribution industry generated $323 billion in revenue in 2019.
  • The top three pharmaceutical distributors in the United States are McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health, which collectively control more than 90% of the market.
  • The average profit margin for pharmaceutical distributors in the United States is around 2-3%.
  • The global pharmaceutical cold chain logistics market size is expected to reach $16.8 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 7.6% from 2020 to 2027.
  • The Asia-Pacific region is expected to be the fastest-growing pharmaceutical distribution market due to the increasing demand for drugs, rising healthcare expenditure, and growing aging population.
  • In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the pharmaceutical distribution industry, causing supply chain disruptions and shortages of critical medications.
  • E-commerce is becoming an increasingly popular method of pharmaceutical distribution, with a projected global e-pharmacy market size of $177.7 billion by 2026.
  • Drug counterfeiting is a significant issue in the pharmaceutical distribution industry, with an estimated 10% of drugs worldwide being counterfeit.
  • The use of blockchain technology is being explored as a potential solution to improve pharmaceutical supply chain security and combat drug counterfeiting.

Pharmaceutical Distribution Stats

Pharmaceutical R&DCompanies invest around 20% or more of their sales revenues in R&D projects [0]
Offenders70% of all offenders were U.S. citizens and 49.4% of all offenders were involved in heroin trafficking [1]
Drug Overdose DeathsDrug overdose deaths more than doubled from 2000 to 2015 and deaths involving opioids more than tripled during the same time frame. [1]
Prior DistributionsAn informative prior distribution gives preferences to some values of the quantity of interest as being more likely than others. [2]
Credible IntervalIf the posterior probability that an endpoint lies in an interval is 0.95, then this interval is called a 95 percent credible interval. [2]
Optimal DecisionChoose the model with highest posterior probability among a finite set of possible models for a given data set. [2]
pDpD can be estimated as the posterior mean of the deviance minus the deviance evaluated at the posterior mean of the parameters. [2]
Pharmaceutical SalesSales reached $450 billion in 2016, up almost 45% from 2013 [3]
Sales Distribution Through DistributorsChain pharmacies made 42% of all sales in 2016, hospitals/HMOs made 15.8% and specialty pharmacies made 1.4% [3]
SKUs per DistributorAverage number of SKUs rose to 54,692 in 2016 from 52,066 in 2015. [3]
Brand Name Prescription Drug SKUs per DistributorAverage number dropped 1.8% to 6,265 in 2016 from 6,383 in 2015. [3]
Generic Prescription Drug SKUs per DistributorAverage number rose 1.9% to 16,283 from 15,975 from 2015. [3]
SKUs for DME and Home Health Care Products per DistributorAverage number jumped nearly 23% to 9,090 from 7,406. [3]
BarcodingManufacturers barcoded 74% of individual items in 2016. [3]
ReturnsOverstocking of products caused 88.3% of returns to distributors in 2016. [3]
Electronic Ordering Systems93% of all distributors offered one or both types of electronic ordering systems to customers in 2016. [3]
Overdose DeathsAge-adjusted rate of overdose deaths increased by over 4% from 2018. [4]
Opioid Involved Overdose DeathsOpioids were involved in 49,860 overdose deaths in 2019 (70.6% of all drug overdose deaths). [4]
Synthetic Opioids72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involve synthetic opioids. [4]
Death Rates Involving PsychostimulantsThe largest increase in death rates involving psychostimulants occurred in the Northeast (43.8%). [4]
Criminal OffensesThe majority of criminal offenses in the US were related to Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses (5%). [5]

Pharmaceutical Market and Distribution Overview

  • The global pharmaceutical market was valued at $1.3 trillion in 2020 and is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2025.
  • The pharmaceutical distribution market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2021 to 2028.
  • In the US, the top three pharmaceutical distributors are McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health, which together account for over 90% of the market share.

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Statistics

  • The pharmaceutical supply chain includes manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies, and patients.
  • The average drug travels 1,500 miles from manufacturer to patient.
  • The pharmaceutical supply chain is highly regulated, with strict guidelines for storage, handling, and transportation of drugs.
  • Cold chain logistics are essential for many drugs, with an estimated 15% of pharmaceutical products requiring temperature-controlled shipping.

Pharmaceutical Distribution Efficiency and Effectiveness

  • In a typical pharmaceutical distribution center, order picking accounts for 60-70% of total labor costs.
  • The use of automated order picking systems can increase productivity by 200-500%.
  • The average cost of a drug recall is $10 million, highlighting the importance of accurate and efficient pharmaceutical distribution.
  • Drug shortages cost the US healthcare system over $400 million per year.

Pharmaceutical Distribution Challenges and Opportunities

  • Counterfeit drugs are a major problem in the pharmaceutical industry, with an estimated 10% of all drugs worldwide being counterfeit.
  • The use of blockchain technology can improve pharmaceutical supply chain transparency and reduce the risk of counterfeit drugs.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of a resilient pharmaceutical supply chain, with disruptions in supply chain leading to shortages of critical drugs.

Pharmaceutical Distribution Trends and Innovations

  • The use of data analytics and artificial intelligence is increasing in the pharmaceutical industry, with predictive analytics being used to forecast demand and optimize inventory management.
  • 3D printing technology is being used to manufacture drugs on demand, reducing the need for large-scale manufacturing and distribution.
  • The use of drones for pharmaceutical delivery is being explored, with the potential to improve delivery times and reduce costs.


Pharmaceutical distribution is a critical and complex process that plays a crucial role in getting life-saving drugs to patients. The statistics shared in this blog post provide key insights into the industry, highlighting both the challenges and opportunities for improvement.

As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is important for pharmaceutical companies to stay abreast of the latest trends and innovations in distribution to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of drugs to those who need them most.

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